I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us. --Walt Disney.
Within all of us dwells a Daffy Duck, a Donald Duck, an Elmer Fudd, a Coyote, a Sylvester, a Yosemite Sam. --Chuck Jones, animator.
Look, there’s me! --Circle Gallery visitor, pointing to framed celluloid of Porky Pig
With its present festival of animation art, the Circle Gallery would have little trouble proclaiming itself “The Happiest Gallery on Earth,” even if it wasn’t located in the Disneyland Hotel.
The festival features Disney animation alongside the work of others important to the genre, among them:
Chuck Jones--creator of the Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Pepe Le Pew.
Friz Freling--originator of the Pink Panther, Yosemite Sam and Tweety and Sylvester.
Hanna-Barbera Studios--which produced the Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear.
Jay Ward--creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale and Dudley Do-Right.
An art gallery seems an unusual place to encounter the likes of Bullwinkle the Moose, whose familiar habitat was American living rooms via television. The dull-witted moose, along with Birdus Fleetus and Lupus Persisticus, could be sighted every Saturday morning while one was seated in front of the set with a bowl of cereal.
But animation art has captured the interest of collectors and is becoming one of the fastest-appreciating markets of the ‘80s. This year, an original production cel from Hanna-Barbera’s “The Flintstones” sold at a Christie’s auction in New York for $7,160. An anonymous buyer paid $286,000 for a black-and-white cel and watercolor background from the 1934 Mickey Mouse classic, “The Orphan’s Benefit.” Cels are sheets of clear acetate on which cartoon characters have been traced and painted. The acetate sheets are fastened to hand-painted backgrounds and then filmed for the final production.
Even items from recently released films, such as Disney’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” sold at Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills for an average of twice the listed pre-auction prices.
Although animation art is appreciating by about 30% each year, it is still accessible to someone who simply wants a special memento of a favorite character. Original production cels from Disney’s “The Rescuers,” “Great Mouse Detective” and “Fox and the Hound” are sold at the Circle Gallery for an average price of $400 to $800.
“Everyone loves the old Disney classics like ‘Snow White,’ but cels from those productions are very hard to come by. But we do have serigraphed reproductions of cels from the classics for $150 each,” says Gallery Director Julie Abowitt.
“I encourage people to buy art not just for its investment potential but because they love that particular piece. No one can predict the future value of artwork. We can only tell you what is presently happening in the market. The most joyful expressions come from people while they see this exhibit. Everyone has a favorite character,” she said,
patiently wiping away a chocolate smear left on the wall by a small and overly enthusiastic visitor.
The festival gives visitors the opportunity to view a video of “Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century” with Daffy Duck as Buck Rodgers and Porky Pig as his sidekick--a cartoon highly praised by film directors for its artistry and political satire. The cartoon was directed in 1953 by Chuck Jones, who lives in Corona del Mar.
Directors Steven Spielberg (an avid collector of animation art), George Lucas and Peter Bogdanovich are enthusiasts of Jones’ work. Bogdanovich stated recently in an Esquire interview: “Chuck Jones’ work remains like all good fables and only the best art, both timeless and universal.”
Jones has won three Oscars and was given a lifetime achievement award last year at the prestigious Zagreb Film Festival in Yugoslavia. He was honored with a one-man retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1980. In 1985 he was featured again at MOMA along with Friz Freling, whose work is also available at Circle Gallery.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: Disneyland Hotel, 1150 W. Cerritos Ave.,
Telephone: (714) 774-9979